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Today I’m going to be posting about Reflexology and Arthritis

Arthritis is a very common condition that causes pain and inflammation around your joints.  And if you suffering with this condition you know that sometimes it can feel like its taking control of your life!  The pain, stiffness and inflammation of your joints never goes away. Living with arthritis is a lot about managing or limiting your symptoms and finding ways to improve your life quality.  And one of those ways, I am pleased to say is Reflexology.  Studies have shown that it can result in many changes in the body, among them lowering blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, improving mood and immune function, and altering how we experience pain – yay!

Now in case you are not aware there are 2 most common types of Arthritis, – Oestoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Oestoarthritis affects around 8 million people in the UK alone!  It is sometimes called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It most frequently occurs in your spine, hands, hips, and knees.  It affects the smooth cartilage lining of your joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness.  Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone, altering the shape of the joint and forcing the bones out of their normal position – ow!

Now Rheumatoid Arthritis is a different condition altogether with it occurring when your body’s immune system starts attacking its own body and targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling. The outer covering (synovium) of your joint is the first place affected. This can then spread across your joint, leading to further swelling and a change in your joint’s shape. This may cause the bone and cartilage to break down. People with RA can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body too.

Oestoarthritis affects around 8 million people & more than 400,00 are affected with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the UK alone!

There are also other types of arthritis and related conditions which include Ankylosing Spondylitis, Cervical Spondylosis, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Gout, Psoriatic arthritis, Enteropathic arthritis, Reactive arthritis, Secondary arthritis and Polymyalgia Rheumatica!!  Phew! That’s a lot of people suffering with lots of conditions! (thank you to nhs.uk for this info on arthritis)

So exactly how can reflexology benefit those suffering with any forms of arthritis?

1) Pain relief – You have around 7000 nerve endings in your feet and the techniques used in reflexology can stimulate these nerves and the central nervous system, which in turn could interrupt or alter the way you feel pain. Having regular treatments has been shown to reduce pain and the need for painkillers and (in some cases) help to alleviate anxiety and depression that some long term sufferers can experience

2) Improved Immune System – Reflexology works by balancing all of your body systems and this includes encouraging the immune system to respond normally.  Some forms of arthritis such as Rheumatoid, Lupus and Polymyalgia Rheumatica are caused when the body’s immune system attacks itself and destroys healthy body tissue.

3) Detoxifying Your Systems – Regular reflexology sessions naturally encourages the body to flush out toxins by boosting blood circulation and lymphatic movement. Applying pressure to and massaging reflexology points can stimulate the appropriate organs to release stored toxins and help to flush the body of excess uric acid crystals.  Your kidneys filter waste products from the blood before turning it into urine and is effective in increasing renal blood flow, which helps the body transport nutrients to cells and remove wastes. Your liver is another important organ involved in the process of detoxifying your body and this can be stimulated through reflexology – it is the job of the liver to filter everything that is consumed and regulate chemical substances in the bloodstream.  Detoxifying your body is a must if you are suffering with gout.

4) Improve your sleep – Anyone suffering with chronic pain will you tell sometimes its just too uncomfortable to get to sleep.  Which is a bit of a catch-22 situation; if you could get more and better sleep, you wouldn’t be as aware of the pain and when you are sleeping your body can start to do some much needed internal repairs.  Reflexology can help the body to relax and respond by releasing chemicals and brain signals to slow down muscles and organs and increase blood flow to the brain. A lot of my clients say they sleep really well after a reflexology treatment

5) Improve circulation – Reflexology is a fab way of improving the circulation of both blood and lymph around your body.  Blood circulation is an important part of your body’s overall function and health. Your heart pumps blood through blood vessels within your circulatory system. Red blood cells carry oxygen to your body’s vital organs, providing vitality and energy. When your vital organs and circulatory system work together, you have an adequate blood flow, which is oxygen and nutrient rich. Having an increase in blood flow and circulation to areas of your body helps promote cell growth and organ function as well as helping to remove any toxins that may be contributing to your symptoms.

6) Relax and Destress – When you are in pain, you tend to tense your body and this in turn can put your body into a stress response or what is sometimes called “fight or flight”.  When this happens your body feels like you are under attack and being threatened and your nervous system releases a whole load of stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol which arouse your body and make it ready for emergecy action – to run away from your attacker or to stay and fight.  Now being in “fight and flight” is a good thing when you are fighting for your life – as it can quite simply save your life.  However being stressed (or staying in fight and flight”) for prolonged periods of time can have a serious effect on your physical, mental and emotional body.  When your are stressed your parasympathetic system does not function properly and this very important system takes care of your digestion, reproduction and the repairing processes of the body.  Reflexology is deeply relaxing – taking your body out of stress response and therefore allowing all of the systems to become balanced and start working properly again.

So there you go! 6 benefits that Reflexology may be able to offer you and your arthritis!  If you’d like to give it a go and book an appointment, just contact me and we can start working on your symptoms asap 🙂

Hugs Sarah x

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